Dental patients today have a number of choices when it comes to selecting materials to fill cavities – thanks to recent technological advances. This includes tooth-coloured materials such as resin-based composite fillings, and traditional dental fillings made of metal amalgam.

The dawn of new materials for fillings has been beneficial, particularly in regards to aesthetics, but this doesn’t necessarily mean the end of traditional dental materials that are stronger, more durable and less expensive. Situations where restored teeth must withstand severe forces that result from chewing may still call for amalgam fillings.

Dental amalgam is a mixture of mercury, silver, tin and copper, which most people recognize as silver fillings. Mercury is necessary to join the metals together to provide a hard, durable filling.

After decades of research, mercury is still the only element that will bind these metals together in a way that allow them to be easily manipulated for filling cavities.south Edmonton dentist

For this reason, dentists regularly prefer dental amalgam because it is simpler to work with than other alternatives. Many dental professionals consider it to be stronger than resin-based composite, and for that reason they use amalgam for back teeth fillings. Patients often prefer amalgam because of its cost-effectiveness and capacity to fill cavities quickly.

Resin composite fillings are comprised of a mixture of ceramic and plastic compounds.

Resins mimic the appearance of natural teeth

This is the reason that these types of fillings are now almost always used on front teeth. Resin compounds weren’t initially strong enough to be used in back teeth, where high-pressure grinding and chewing require greater durability; however, in the past decade they have improved enough to allow the use of resin material for back teeth.

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Many dentists still choose not to use resins for the following reasons:

  • With more durable resin material available for only a decade, resins haven’t stood the test of time in teeth where grinding and chewing result in heavy wear; by contrast, the durability of amalgam fillings is well documented — the average life span of amalgams is 8 to 10 years, but many last 20 years or more.
  • Amalgam is one of the best filling materials when dentists need to place fillings in areas of the mouth that are difficult to keep dry, such as molars (back teeth) or cavities below the gum line. Resin fillings need a specific environment in which to be placed; for example, the prepared tooth must be completely dry when the resin material is being applied and cured. Clinical experience has consistently shown that amalgam is, for a great many situations, still the most reliable filling material for long-term, low-maintenance function.
  • Resin costs more than amalgam, which can make the cost of the service higher than for a comparable amalgam filling.

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